Monday, December 20, 2010

Cookie Crouch

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been hit by a train...or, at the very least, bumped by  a bakery truck. My bones ache and my lower back is throbbing. You've heard of tennis elbow. Well, I have an unfortunate case of "Cookie Crouch."

"Cookie Crouch" is a side effect of a different sort of physical activity---slightly less demanding than whacking a ball over a net and typically performed by women of a slightly older demographic, it affects those of us who undertake a major baking during the holiday season.

After hours of creating cut-out cookies in assorted seasonal shapes, I am bent like Groucho Marx but, unlike Groucho, seem to have accidentally misplaced my sense of humor and festivity somewhere deep in the bowl of ingredients.

I think back to my grandmother and her massive baking endeavors. While Christmas cookies were not specifically her thing, she would make mountains of fresh "kifli" (buttery horns of cream cheese dough filled with ground nuts and sugar), endless trays of apple and cheese strudel or chocolate babka that made grown men weep. My little day of cutting snow flakes out of dough cannot even be spoken in the same breath as what went on in the kitchen of my youth but I am considerably less tough than that little Hungarian baking machine known as Grandma and I accept that. I do remember, however, after the all the goodies were done and resting, fragrant under clean kitchen towels, that she'd disappear for a while. "Cookie Crouch" is not a new phenomena.

I start out cheerfully enough. Working with the Food Network murmuring in the background, I mix, chill and roll until hours have elapsed and a huge pile of cookies has accumulated on the counter. I swat Seth away as he makes frequent trips to the kitchen to see what's ready to be eaten and continue on until there are cookies on every available surface in my little kitchen. The back pain grows slowly and steadily and unless Advil is administered immediately, you're sunk.

If I were 25 years younger---and someone else--I might have looked cute, standing in the kitchen with flour on my nose. But, upon finding me, holding onto the table for support with desperation in my eyes, Seth makes himself scarce once the groaning begins. The swearing will soon follow.

To be so blown out after a baking extravaganza is a shocker. I don't remember feeling this broken in previous years and I realize that like marathon runners, I must start training immediately for next year's event.  First, pass the Advil...and a cookie.

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